Steam trains

Jo’s Monday walk : Ruswarp to Whitby (and back)

Memory is a strange thing, isn’t it?  I was sure I’d walked this walk with you, from Ruswarp to Whitby and back again.  I even remember telling how I was like a drowned rat when the skies opened on the way back.  Sitting in a puddle, eating a cheese sandwich and looking out of the pub window at the rain is not my idea of fun.  The Guinness was good, but it was a sunny riverside setting I had in mind.  Apparently my memory lies.  Nowhere could I find that original post!  Nor photos to accompany it.  Strange tricks memory plays!

I walked this way again recently, with a sunnier ending, and this time I’m determined to share it with you.  It’s tinged with sadness today, because it’s a year ago that Dad died.  There was nothing he liked better, if he had company, than to whisk them into his car and off over the Moors to Whitby.  Fish and chips and a pint and he was happy with life.  He couldn’t walk far but was always fiercely independent (in a soft, gentlemanly way).  The last time we were there together he parked the car on the cliff top.  Somehow we ended up down at street level, and then were faced with the challenge of getting back up there again.  I seriously doubted we’d ever make it but, with many pauses, we did.

Ruswarp is a charming village, a little over a mile inland from Whitby, along the River Esk.  The Esk Valley Railway runs through the village and sometimes you’re treated to the sight and sound of steam.  By the riverside you can hire rowing boats and canoes, and take canoeing lessons.  This gentle walk is signposted off the main street and follows a stone pannierway, known locally as Monk’s Trod.  Watch out for a bit of an uphill haul as you leave the river and approach Whitby, on the Esk Valley Walk.

You have a couple of choices for leaving the walk to enter Whitby.  Last time I followed the Cinder Track but this time I opted for West Cliff.  Either option will bring you close to Pannell Park and from there you’re close to the seafront, and the monument to the bombardment.

This is where Dad parked, close by the monument to James Cook, looking across to Whitby Abbey and near to the whalebone arch.  I remember the relief with which he subsided onto a bench when we made it back up that cliff.

I was lucky to be heading downwards, admiring the views on the way.  Into the ‘Screaming tunnel’, alleged to have been used by Dracula to frighten his victims, and out the other side.  Best done in daylight.

Down on the harbourside the seagulls are in raucous control, while St. Mary’s church looks down with the serenity of centuries.

The swing bridge remains locked in position, while Whitby is full of its usual bustle.  To escape the crowd for a while we duck into our favourite little eating place, tucked away in the quiet of Sander’s Yard.  Healthy food, you’ll note! (I won’t show you his chips)  And  I only looked at the cup cakes.

Leaving the bucket and spade brigade behind, it’s time to carry on, past the marina and down to the very end of the car park.  There you will find a footpath that runs between the railway and a boatyard.  Hold on- you’re in for a treat!  Look what’s coming!

It’s always a sight to gladden the heart, and I watch it disappear into the distance before turning my gaze back to the river.  At this point we have lovely views back to Whitby, while ahead lies the 120 foot high viaduct, built to carry the Whitby-Scarborough railway.  The route was closed in 1965 and the Cinder Track walking and cycling path I mentioned earlier now runs across it.

The River Esk was used to power corn mills in the village of Ruswarp, though the last closed in 1962.  The weir built to channel water into a mill-race has been adapted to power a hydro-electric project on the south bank.  As I follow the river, suddenly I can hear a whooping and a hollering.  Looking over the hedge I’m amused to see what looks like a scene from ‘Swallows and Amazons’.  The schoolkids are having a whale of a time.

I’m almost back to my start point when there’s the hoot of a whistle behind me.  Spinning round I’m delighted to see the engine racing along, black steam pouring from its funnel.  Steam trains don’t stop in Ruswarp, but slow at the level crossing where our trail ends.

Five minutes later and we’re back on the riverbank, where we began.  I hope you enjoyed coming along with me.

Yesterday we did what Dad would have wanted.  The family got together in a pub that he liked, and we talked and we laughed.  It was easy to imagine him there with us.  Today it’s all just memories.  God bless, Dad!


Thank you all for your company.  I hope you can find a little more time to visit these walks that people have kindly contributed.  If you’d like to join in, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’ll make you very welcome.  Time to put the kettle on now.


Let’s start with an introduction.  Melodie lives in Manchester and she loves tea :

Hike around Edale, Peak District

You’ll enjoy Jude’s stroll in the YSP.  I certainly did!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park : Part Two

Maybe you should bring a blow-up boat for this walk with Violet :

The Fishing Islands

Jackie’s raring to go, as ever!  And well supplied :

Chuck Wagon

Fitbits are all the rage, aren’t they?  Marsha has it under control!

How to Get an Easy 10,000 steps in Sedona, AZ

Sometimes you can simply overdo it.  Believe me, Liesbet, I know!

Day Trips around Santa Fe, NM- Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque

Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque

Janet shares some fascinating details of this National Park :

The Badlands 1

The Badlands 2 

While Lady Lee is living the good life!

Being pampered in Das Kranzbach

You have to get up early for peace and quiet in Singapore, but you’ll be welcome to join Ju-Lyn :

Running to stillness on Orchard Road

Kathrin’s planning on some physical hiking in Yosemite.  I’d love to join her :

Places in California : Q is for…

While Woolly has some fun with the birds :


I’m ending today with my lovely friend, Gilly, showing us yet another side to beautiful Firenze :

A walk in the Oltrarno

Many thanks to you all, and wishing you a great week!

Six word Saturday


The case of the disappearing train!

Full steam ahead!

Full steam ahead!

Or just a bookcase?

Or simply a bookcase?

During the week I’m going to take you to a wonderful museum at Preston Park, in North Yorkshire.  Because it’s Saturday and I only have six words to describe it (smile!), I’ll just give you a little taster, like the Header above.

A perfect way to tell the time

A perfect way to tell the time!

Snuff anybody? No thanks, but the case is stunning.

Snuff anybody? No thanks, but isn’t the case stunning?

And of course, there are costumes.

And of course, there are costumes.

As I walked into the museum I looked at a “faux” bookcase- or so I thought!  I’d just turned away to the cabinets when, with a mighty roar, the steam train came clanking through.  Then disappeared just as suddenly, and all was still.

Yes, I’m still playing with Headers, but have rejected the “Random” option.  I like a little more control over how I look!  “Menus” aren’t much of an option either, as I’m only allowed one with this theme.

Do join us at Six word Saturday!  There’s always something going on, and Cate at Show My Face will be most happy to receive you.  Just click on the link or the logos.


Six word Saturday

A hodge podge of a week!

In a week where the finals of the tennis in Rome were rained off and had to be played on Monday, my week was out of sinc from the word go.  Two of my passions collided and I left my walking group to their own devices and hovered near the TV.  Happy to say that Rafa won, so it was worthwhile!  It was a grey day anyway.  (I know I’m sad, but a passion is a passion)

Heat then wrapped around our blessed isle and on Wednesday, after t’ai chi, I met a lady friend, thinking we’d have a lovely walk on our Headland beach.  Well, we did, but it was enveloped in thick fog!  Normally it looks like this:


But not today.  Sadly I didn’t have my camera- sometimes it seems rude to be snapping away when you are enjoying someone else’s company.  I wished I had though because I would have loved to capture the eeriness of the lonesome sailboats wending their way out of the harbour.

More than that, I could have shown you the great conversion job that’s been done to the chapel, now Mary Rowntree’s Victorian Tearooms.  The project had lots of council opposition and had been ongoing for years.  The result is fabulous. Have a  look at  It has some wonderful photos of Old Hartlepool and if you look down the left hand sidebar there is just one shot of Mary Rowntree’s.  If you click on it to enlarge you’ll get some idea of the place.

Thursday, as some of you know, I was Nordic walking and riding a steam train in North Yorkshire.  I couldn’t wait to write this post : but here are a few extra shots if you don’t have time to read it.

Grosmont village

“The Green Knight” steams in!

All aboard!

Oops, silly me! You get the picture, anyway.

And finally, the picnic spot

I guess that’s worn everybody out with my week!  As usual I’m saying thank you to Cate of Show My Face for coming up with the idea of Six word Saturday, though I know I abuse it.  She’d love you to join in.  The details are in the link and in the banner at the top of the page.  Thanks for reading, and please, if you have the stamina, come back next week.

Steam’s up in North Yorkshire

What is the magic of the steam train?  I’m not sure, but if North York Moors Railway knew the answer, they’d bottle it.  Noisy, smelly, sooty – not the adjectives you’d normally associate with a top class tourist attraction, but on a sunny spring morning in Grosmont, the air positively thrums with excitement.  Celebrating 60 years this year, the North York Moors Railway is an unqualified success story.

“The Green Knight” arrives at Grosmont

I was enjoying the best of all possible worlds because I was riding the train from Grosmont to Goathland, and walking back, with my Nordic walking friends.  Arriving on the platform around 11am, there was an air of serenity and calm.  The view along the platform spoke of all the delights of England’s green and pleasant land.  Unhurriedly purchasing a ticket, I gazed around.  The pretty blue benches were inviting, but I knew that if I sat down I could be tempted to lose the remainder of the day.

A peaceful start at Grosmont

An empty platform

Delicious coffee smells filled the air, and a couple of my ever hungry walking pals wolfed down bacon and sausage sarnies.  A tempting array of scones and cakes sat on the counter of the café.

One minute the platform was empty, the next there was a bustle of people and cameras everywhere.  “It’s coming!”  Sure enough, a loud toot and a hiss heralded the arrival of “The Green Knight”, majestically rolling towards the platform.  The cream and maroon carriages gleamed.  Hastily snapping away, along with everybody else who wanted to capture a piece of the moment, I scrambled on board just in time.  “Tickets please”, that familiar cry, then we were enveloped in ink blackness as we chugged into the tunnel.  Jokes about “Murder on the Orient Express” were bandied around, till we emerged unscathed into the sunlight.

Where did everybody come from?

Arriving at Goathland

Milk churns in waiting

I felt unbelievably lucky to be witnessing this idyllic scenery on such a beautiful day.  All too soon it was time to alight at Goathland, carriage doors slamming and the guard scurrying about.  Reluctantly I left the gentle monster and was herded up and counted by our walk leader.

Another treat was in store.  With a fair level of fitness between us, it had been decided that we would walk to Mallyan Spout, and then join the popular Rail Trail along the River Esk.  Goathland is “Heartbeat” territory, the scene of a popular TV series, and as such always busy.  Many people simply ride the train and stroll around the village.  There are just enough public houses, shops and cafes to cater for everyone, and the village green is pure England.  Not for us the tempting benches.  I doubt if we’d have found a space anyway.

The pastoral scene on the village green, Goathland

Too-wit, too-whoo!

Always when you’re out walking, you know that if at first you’re heading downwards, there will be a price to pay.  There are many steps down to Mallyan Spout, and the scramble across the rocks to a viewing point can be challenging, but the amount of rain in recent times had guaranteed that the waterfall would be at its best.  So it proved.  Satisfied with our efforts so far, we stopped by the river for our picnic, and to exchange tips with passersby.

Sparkling River Esk

Mallyan Spout waterfall

Perfect for a picnic

Time to move on at a leisurely pace, because, of course, the climb was coming.  Several of the walkers are in their seventies but they’re a lively and determined bunch, and we had soon earned our reward of a level track to pursue our way back to Grosmont.  The Rail Trail is easy walking and can be accomplished by most people.  I love to follow a river, and the occasional glimpse and sound of a passing steam train has necks craning to see.  The grass verges were laced with tiny blue forget-me-nots and great swathes of wild garlic swamped the senses.

Before long we were looking down on Grosmont, and the trail ended by the Old School House, now an attractive restaurant.  A cool drink had certainly been earned and it was lovely to slip the boots off and while away an hour.  The gates of the level crossing heralded the comings and goings of the steam giants, but when we returned to the platform en route for the car park and home, all was again peaceful and quiet.  Just time for a quick peak in the “ladies room”.

A heat haze over Grosmont

A “ladies” with style

Numerous days out can be spent on and around the North York Moors Railway.  At this time of year, it’s just coming into it’s own. For timetable and details of events, see

On the right track in Weardale

I am a compulsive collector of leaflets and travel articles.  Tell me whereabouts you’d like to go and you can be sure I’ll dig deep and find the very leaflet to take you there and show you everything there is to see.  Trouble is, I end up with far more leaflets than places I’ve been to.  So life with me is a constant struggle to keep up with the leaflet collection- just ask my husband!  But sometimes we end up in the most beguiling places.

Weardale poster

Weardale poster

Take Tuesday, for instance.  A bit of a grey and murky one, but that hint of Autumn colour’s still out there.  How long will it take us to get to Wolsingham? I ask the unsuspecting husband.  My motive?  One of the prettiest train rides I’ve ever taken.

Diesel at Wolsingham

Our diesel train awaits at Wolsingham

Wolsingham is a pleasant market town on the River Wear in the North Pennines, an area of truly outstanding natural beauty.  The railway station is on the edge of town and was completely deserted when we arrived.  The conductor was more than happy to discuss options.  It was a designated Heritage Day, which meant that a steam train would be running at intervals throughout the day.  We were more than happy to climb aboard the waiting diesel, certainly the first time we’d ever had an entire train to ourselves.  How could this railway line pay for itself we asked the conductor.  He explained that it had been purchased primarily for freight, but that in Summer it was easily viable.

Weardale Railway

On the Weardale Railway

We were soon to see why.  The railway closely follows the River Wear along the valley and we were constantly rewarded by chuckling, gurgling stretches of water.  At one point the guard was required to climb down from the train to manually open the crossing gate- when did I last see that happen?  We were heading for Stanhope, just 20 minutes away, but first we would pass by Frosterley.  We had noted from the timetable that if we wanted to disembark there we needed to tell the guard in advance.  Just as well we didn’t as I later discovered that the Black Bull Inn, one of the main reasons to go there, only opens Wednesday to Sunday.

Fully restored in 2005 to a traditional English pub of the 1800s, with flagged floors and open fires, the food looks fabulous.  Interestingly this is the only pub in England with its own peal of bells, housed in an adjoining building.(Telephone 01388 527784) On the website the links More and Bells will lead you to “The Bellringers Tale”.

River Wear

Hard to capture

Passing through thickly wooded slopes, the friendly conductor told us that the views of the river were better at this time of year.  In Summer they would be lost in leafy foliage.  Camera in hand, I tried hard to capture the abrupt splashes of red, but never quite made it.  A couple of weeks earlier we would have been bathed in an amber glow.

Stepping stones at Stanhope

Stepping stones at Stanhope

In no time at all we were gliding into Stanhope station.  I had previously walked the river banks and crossed the stepping stones here.  Today’s excitement for me was the train, but Stanhope is a lovely small town.  The Tourist Information office is situated in the Durham Dales Centre on Front Street, an interesting venue in its own right.  A happy hour or two could be spent here on one of those cold, dreary days that sometimes hit this part of the world.  The café sells a good array of warming food and there are several craft shops to browse.

Durham Dales Centre

Durham Dales Centre

Stanhope Castle

Stanhope Castle

Fossil Tree

Fossil Tree

Further along Front St you have fine views of privately owned Stanhope Castle, while 12th Century St Thomas Church overlooks the Market Place.  A real crowd pleaser, the 320 million years old Fossil Tree stands in the grounds, while the Victorian font is made of Frosterley marble.  Dropping down The Butts will bring you to the riverside walk and Castle Park, home of the county’s only open-air heated swimming pool (May to August).  Or you could walk (or drive) to beautiful Tunstall Reservoir.

Tunstall Reservoir

Lovely Tunstall Reservoir

Back at the station the steam engine is warming up for the journey back to Wolsingham.  Manned chiefly by volunteers, steam events take place throughout the year.  From 26th November the Santa Specials take to the rails.  For full timetable details and the history of the railway:  The railway continues on to Bishop Auckland, a short walk from the main-line station.

Wolsingham Station

Wolsingham Station

In Wolsingham we park at the Demesne Mill picnic area and wander back to the High St.  All is quiet and peaceful and we pop into Peggotty’s Tea Room, off Market Square.  Mince cobbler, a favourite of mine, is on the menu for £6.95, and in the attached bakery a variety of Tiffins are displayed.  Cranberry and white chocolate is barely resistible for 99p.    

Stone cottage, Wolsingham

Old stone cottages, Wolsingham

Time to return home, just an hour down the road, and move the leaflet to the bottom of the pile- mission very happily accomplished!

A day out on the Wensleydale Railway

Steam trains, a Vintage bus, pretty Dales villages, waterfalls and beautifully bumpy scenery- sounds like ”a grand day out”?  It certainly was, and no shortage of cheese, Gromit lad!

We started our trip in Bedale, a sizeable Yorkshire village that we hadn’t really explored previously. With an hour to kill till the next train and gentle sunshine percolating down, now seemed like a good time.  A genteel sort of place; the butchers, bakers and greengrocers’ produce looked super fresh and inviting, the florists displays standing crisply to attention.  Georgian houses line the front street. Tuesdays host a lively market.  A heritage trail can guide you around key points of interest.

Ready for action at Bedale Station

Back to the railway station for the main event– the gleaming, huffing, 11.38 chugs into view.  A ripple of excitement shivers down the platform, and not only amongst  the small boys! (the main lure for my husband on this “grand day out” was the promise of steam).  The youthful volunteer guard  leaps down to position a footstool, to assist us up into the carriage.  His whistle toots and I settle back to admire the gently unravelling scenery.  So very English, the tantalising glimpses of back gardens, cornfields  and dappled shade; not quite so English, my delinquent glass of Zinfandel, served by the charming elderly gentleman in charge of the tea urn.

The Vintage Bus waiting patiently at Redmire

The railway runs year round and covers 16 miles from Leeming Bar, just off the A1, to Redmire, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The scenery increases in drama as you approach Redmire, where a Vintage bus can take you deeper into the National Park. We hopped down from the train and there waiting stood a little green bus. It felt like a scene directly out of Thomas the Tank Engine as we trundled off down the country lanes.  In barely 15 minutes we’d reached Aysgarth Falls – time for a little footwork.

Aysgarth Falls

Before setting off to see the triple flight of waterfalls, it’s a good idea to call into the Visitor Centre.  A wealth of information on the area is available, though frugally we spent just 50p on a walk leaflet, to assist our return to Redmire. Very tasty and substantial meals are served, plus a seriously tempting selection of home baked cakes.  Of course, Wensleydale cheese is the star of the show.  Mindful that I would be walking the 4 miles back to the station, I restricted myself to a scone, albeit a huge and extremely cheesy one.  If you’re not walking, or just fancy lunch in a good traditional pub, the Bolton Arms in Redmire will do nicely, and can even provide accommodation if you don’t feel inclined to move on.

Lower Falls

The obliging English weather had supplied plentiful rainfall to ensure that the River Ure was full, and the falls an exhilarating tumble of water.  If they look familiar, you may have seen them in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  You can linger at the falls, or stride off across the fields.  Our leaflet was easy to follow, and soon we came in sight of medieval Castle Bolton.  If you’ve not been before, it’s well worth a look, and is an excellent cup of tea spot.  Numerous events take place here, including Living History weekends.  Don’t miss the wild boar park, with 9 child-pleasing baby boarlets.

Castle Bolton

Castle Bolton

The rain followed us across the fields, but it was with a sense of a full day out that we boarded the train again.  I gazed out of the window and plotted a deeper expedition into the Dales for my next trip.

The Vintage Bus carries on to Hawes and Garsdale on selected days between 1st April and 30th October.  Full details, including proposed extensions to the Railway, can be found on